A 52-year-old man has confessed to dozens of sex offenses against girls as young as 10 and 11, often traveling from his home in Ashdod to the Tel Aviv area, the police said Tuesday.
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On Monday, detectives arrested the man, thought to have committed the offenses in Tel Aviv suburb Holon.
On Tuesday, Judge Ala Masrawa of the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court extended the suspect's detention by five days. During the hearing it emerged that the man was convicted of similar offenses in 2013 and afterward received treatment, which he has since stopped.
The suspect's attorney requested that his client's identity be placed under a gag order, while the police said the release of his name and photograph would let other victims come forward.
About two weeks ago, the police received complaints from three girls aged 10 and 11 who said a man had sexually assaulted them. The three described identical behavior: The man approached them carrying a girl’s bathing suit, claiming to be a swimming coach who was putting together a team.
The man was said to have asked the girls to put on the bathing suit so he could examine whether they were right for the team. After they put on the suit, the man took them to a stairwell or other isolated spot and assaulted them.
The similarity in the three girls’ accounts led the police to conclude that the girls were all assaulted by the same man. After the police received additional complaints, they concluded that the case involved a serial offender.
Following unsuccessful efforts to find the man, the police distributed his picture and surveillance video that showed one of the incidents. The police asked for the public's help to locate the suspect, and on Monday were able to arrest him at home.
That day, the man pointed out to the police sites in the Holon area where he said he had assaulted girls. The police are now investigating where he committed offenses in other locations as well.
Law enforcement officials were surprised to find that the case involved dozens of instances in which the man employed the exact same approach, traveling to the Tel Aviv area where people did not know him, committing the assaults and returning home.
Police have called on the public to contact them with any information on further incidents.